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New COVID-19 Precautions for Wagner Dining Hall

by Eleanor Withers

Photo via greensburg.pitt.edu.

Due to COVID-19, the Pitt-Greensburg campus has undergone many changes to ensure safety to students and staff while open. Since the Wagner Dining Hall in Chambers is one of the facilities commonly used by many students and staff alike, the dining process needed to be altered this semester.  

As with just about everywhere else in the U.S., Wagner has signs which instruct students to maintain a distance of six feet apart and require everyone to wear masks.   

To further eliminate the risk of contamination, the buffet line was closed. Students are now served by staff from behind a plexiglass wall instead, who ask what they would like and fill a take-out container for them. 

All other food is prepackaged for students to carry out, but the option to dine in still is available. 

The campus opened on Aug. 15 at elevated risk status, but after the seven day shelter-in-place period was over for the last round of residents, the campus moved to guarded risk, and Wagner opened its tables.   

The seating was adjusted to 25 percent with socially distanced tables, and a maximum of two people per table.  

Though this sit-in option exists, Director of Dining Services Richard McMahon was surprised to find that “most people choose take out.” McMahon added “that most people are not comfortable with dine in.”  

The dining hall staff dealt with some behind the scene changes as well. According to McMahon, the full staff work the same hours as before, and all associates do a wellness check every day, get their temperatures taken, and fill out a form. This process also applies to vendors and delivery workers.   

Staff working with food went through specific training, and now have to disinfect everything as well as cleaning it.  

McMahon said they’re putting a “focus on safety and training.” 

They “encourage contactless payment” for the Coffeehouse, Bobcat, and store, but still accept cash. 

So far, all the safety precautions have worked, as no staff members have reported being sick.   

McMahon’s biggest concern now is line control. The dining hall has eliminated order slips for this purpose, and so far, long lines haven’t caused any problems.   

Whichever option you chose when dining, McMahon’s priority is to keep staff and students safe and for everyone to feel comfortable.  

He knows these are stressful times, but “we’re all in this together.”

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